the split second before you jump off.

when you graduate from college, everyone says, congratulations.

we’re so proud of you. congratulations. good job. congratulations.

except for the one person who told me, congratulations. and I’m sorry.

and that, I think, is the best thing anyone could have said.

you see, people keep asking how it feels.

how do I answer that?

I smile. I say, it’s exciting. I say, it’s crazy. I say, it went by so fast. I say, it doesn’t feel real yet. I smile and I nod as people talk about internships and careers and next steps. I smile and answer the four-hundred-and-fifty-sixth question about what I’m doing next year.

I don’t say, I don’t know how I feel. I don’t say, I want to go back already. I don’t say, I have no clue what I’m doing, not today not tomorrow not ever. I don’t say, please stop asking me that question.

because it feels like a lot of things, at all once, and also nothing. because it feels like all of my feeling are a jumbled mess of kite strings, flown by a child who doesn’t know how to handle the wind. because it feels like I am a child who has been handed a kite, but no one told me how to handle the wind.

how does it feel?

it feels like the split second before you jump off the swing. you’ve already shifted your weight forward, un-stuck your bare skin from the rubber seat. you’ve pulled your arms out from behind the chains. peak of the arc, the height of your playground parabola. and then, in one instant, there is both a fear-filled longing to stay on that swing and a rush of adrenaline that fills your veins in preparation for the flying. it feels like that, terror and thrill mingling in your mouth and leaving a bittersweet taste on your tongue.

the short answer, I guess, is that it’s complicated.

I keep hoping I can sort it out, maybe I can untangle it all. maybe, I can work out these feelings, pull apart the happy from the sad and figure them both out.

but I can’t, because it feels both happy and sad.

this graduation thing, this next-stage thing, this life-changing thing. it’s rough. and it’s hard and it’s good and it is growing and hurting and mourning and creating.

congratulations. and I’m sorry.

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23 thoughts on “the split second before you jump off.

  1. You are a phenomenal writer. And I love your heart. I hear you. I see you. Congratulations and I’m sorry and i’m sitting with you tonight. 💜💜💜

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. It’s worth the jump. It’s always worth the jump. There in that suspension you are moving with the wind, a co-creator in your own story. And Love will not abandon you there, but open its arms to catch you.

  3. SO glad you made this leap out loud, Hannah. This is wonderful. And so true. True confession: I have a grandson graduating next weekend – and I know these feelings are tangled up in his heart, too. Transitions are always rough – but it’s a gift that you’re able to write it out at age 22 or 23, dear girl. It took some of us a whole lot longer to get to where you are right this second.

  4. I hear you! Can I tell you something else? The congratulations and I’m sorry, and that feeling of launching off the swing – it keeps happening. Life keeps changing and that is good but almost always complicated too in the emotions and circumstances that we find ourselves dealing with. It’s ok to be unsure and brave and happy and sad all at once. Good job 🙂

  5. As has already been said, life keeps throwing those kind of situations at you, where you feel the same way. I felt like in my experience, after the jump I sort of landed and stumbled, did a few roly-polies, fell into a puddle of mud, bounced out again, down a hill of thistles and then landed on my feet. But, it is all part of the adventure. 🙂 Good luck, you are clearly very talented and the world can only benefit!

  6. Ughhh, we should chat so that I can try to hug you long distance and we can comiserate and coencourange. This was raw and real and *beautiful*, and you are not alone. It takes so much tenacity to jump from that swing and try to hit the ground, balanced, and on your feet.
    Perhaps it is one of those uncanny moments when dance rules apply to life.

  7. Girlie – I love you so! I just can’t ever say it enough! Praying for you as you jump… allow yourself to feel both… to feel all of the things… you will land on your feet, holding His hand, …and you will dance!

  8. I completely understand! But I will also put in a shameless plug for the Greensboro Fellows Program, since it truly helps with this! It gives you some extra time to explore and figure things out before fully diving into adult stuff. I say do it!! 🙂

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